Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2007-08/Brand names of products 2

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Brand names of products 2[edit]

  • Voting on: Proposed clarification of criteria for inclusion of brand names of products.
A brand name for a physical product will be deemed to meet the CFI if it has entered the lexicon. Apart from genericized trademarks, this is measured objectively by the brand name’s use in at least three independent durably archived citations spanning a period of at least three years. Furthermore, the sources of these citations:
  1. must be independent of any parties with economic interest in the product, including the manufacturer, distributors, retailers, marketers, and advertizers, their parent companies, subsidiaries, and affiliates, at time of authorship; and
  2. must not identify any such parties.
Furthermore, if the term has legal protection as a trademark, the original source must not indicate such.
Furthermore, the sources must not be written:
  1. by any person or group associated with the type of product;
  2. about any person or group specifically associated with the product; or
  3. about the type of product in general (since this would help to identify the product even if the brand name is generally unknown).
Furthermore, the text preceding and surrounding the citation must not identify the product to which the brand name applies, whether by stating explicitly or implicitly some feature or use of the product from which its type and purpose may be surmised, or some inherent quality that is necessary for an understanding of the author’s intent. For example:
  • The fact that an individual drives a product is enough to indicate, pragmatically, a narrower type of the product being described than a vehicle, namely an “automobile” in the sense of a regular personal road vehicle, as opposed to a tractor or Formula 1 race car for instance. If the product is of this common type, and if no narrower purpose or presumed quality is necessary for an understanding of the text, then such wording would invalidate the citation.
    • 2003, Jeffery Deaver, The Vanished Man, A Lincoln Rhyme Novel, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 244
      “He wasn’t checking out Cheryl Marston on the bridle path; he was checking out the circus. The newspaper, the one in his Mazda—look at that headline: ‘Entertainment for Kids Young and Old.’”
    This looks like a good citation since it doesn’t even indicate the type of product. However, the word Mazda is used a dozen times in the narrative before this page, establishing the meaning very clearly. Hence this quotation does not count toward the three necessary citations. In fact, it’s rather useless.
    • 2007, Jala Pfaff, Seducing the Rabbi, Blue Flax Press, →ISBN, page 310
      ...seated atop a genuine (detatched) commode of the white pocelain variety, which he had lugged at great hernia-inducing peril from the back of his Mazda to the Outdoor Cinema site, several blocks away.
    This quotation doesn’t indicate the type of product either. The apparent clues that it might be a vehicle can be easily countered. While outdoor cinemas are often drive-in, the seating contest already establishes that this one is not. The reference to blocks does not distinguish other objects, even stationary ones. Indeed, it says something about his character that the man wouldn’t have unloaded the contents closer, knowing what a Mazda is. With two other legitimate citations of a three-year span, Mazda can be accepted.
    • 2004, Gaby Triana, Backstage Pass, page 42
      Mom drives an Accord, which is quite a surprise if you think about it. I guess that says something about her response to fame. Anyone can drive a Porsche once they have the cash.
    In this example both the type of product and its expense are apparent. Since enough context is provided within the quotation to determine the meaning, this quotation would not count toward the citation requirement for Porsche. However, it may still be useful in supporting a definition that names that quality, and on other grounds it may still count for Accord.
    • 2005, William Braxton Irvine, On Desire: Why We Want What We Want, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 26
      a male undergoing a garden-variety mid-life crisis is disturbed not by his sexual appetites but by the lack of variety in his sexual partners. He is disturbed not by the crass materialism of his life but by the fact that
      1.   he is still driving a Saab when he could and should be driving a Porsche.
      2.   he is still driving a Ford when he could and should be driving a Porsche.
      3.   he is still driving a Peterbilt when he could and should be driving a Porsche.
    Only one of the above quotations is real, although any would make sense. The first contrasts security with precariousness, the second ordinarity with pizazz, and the third momentum and focus with impulsive playfulness. If it is clear that the brand is an auto, nonetheless further information is necessary to understand the intent of the author. The quotation of what he actually wrote would count towards citation because the Ford brand can assume other qualities for contrast:
    4.   he is still driving a Ford when he could and should be driving a Toyota.
    Toyotas are by no means uncommon, but they are not domestic, implying a different type of variety in partners.
  • In the case that a different or narrower type, such as a semi or motorcycle, is necessary to understand the text, if that type can be inferred by other contextual clues preceding or near its use, then that is sufficient to invalidate the citation.
    • 2005, Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, Animals in Translation, Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, pages 71-72
      thier hearts were too small to pump blood to their huge bodies. It was like trying to run a Mack truck on a Voltswagon engine, and their hearts gave out.
    Although identified as a truck, it has to be understood that this brand is specifically a semi-tractor trailer in order for the analogy to be of any help.
    • 2006, Kerry and Barry Morgan, Never Tell Them You're Dying, independently published, →ISBN, page 37
      I staggered towards the radiology technician and she moved backwards looking like a deer in the headlights of a Mack truck.
    Even if it weren’t identified as a truck in this text, the type of vehicle is mostly irrelevant to the analogy.
  • The fact that a product can be taken may be sufficient indication that it is a type of medication. However, “take” has many meanings, so the correct meaning would be inferred by context, such as being taken with water or as a result of a headache. If no narrower purpose is necessary for an understanding of the text, then this plausible inference invalidates the citation.
    • 2002, Joe Peacock, Mentally Incontinent [sic.], This Is Not Art! (2005), →ISBN, page 231
      “She was unconscious, apparently from a reaction brought on from taking an entire bottle of Advil.”
    No medication is prescribed in large doses, and this result of overdosing is not unusual for most types.
    • 2002, Francine Pascal, Frearless Blood, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 160
      I...run a deep tub of water as hot as I can stand it. I set a fluffy white towel, two cans of Coke, and a bottle of Advil on a little table. I sink into the water. I take four Advil pills and drink a Coke.
    Since the narrator doesn’t have a headache, it is not apparent from this quotation that Advil is a pain reliever in contrast to, say, some drug that counteracts carbination. Knowing that can greatly aid the understanding of the fantasy described.
  • The fact that a product can be eaten can indicate, pragmatically, a narrower type of the product being described than food. This may be a sweet, snack food, fast food meal, etc. depending on the circumstances under which it was bought, carried, consumed, etc. If the product is of a type that can be inferred, and if no narrower type is necessary for an understanding of the text, then such contextual clues would invalidate the citation.
    • 2005, Alan Haehnel, Stressed, A Teen Symphony in One Act, Theatrefolk, →ISBN, page 20
      We’d be cruising down the holy highway...snarfin’ only the best foods: Cheetos and Mountain Dew and an occassional Slim Jim. Heaven on wheels...
    In the setting of a car, one would guess that this is a snack food.
    • 2005, Hal Edward Runkel, Screamfree Parenting, Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, ScreamFree Living, →ISBN, page 137
      Vacation is great, isn’t it? Getting up when you want, wearing pajamas until noon, eating Cheetos instead of Cheerios for breakfast.
    From the context, it is not apparent what kind of food Cheetos are if not a breakfast food.
  • The fact that a product can be worn or that it can be played is not enough to indicate what type of clothing, musical instrument, etc. is referred to, but other contextual clues, such as to where the product is worn or how it is played, may be sufficient to invalidate the citation.
    • 1996, Patrick Sheane Duncan, Courage Under Fire, Putnam Adult, 1st American edition, →ISBN, page 91
      Major Donald Teegarden, a tanned, balding man with a blond mustache and blue eyes that broadcast an immediate amiability, was playing a Gameboy with a Captain Byers.... Serling waited until Teegarden turned the Gameboy over to Byers for his turn before he interrupted.
    Because of the name, this is probably a game rather than a musical instrument, but it isn’t clear what type. Board games are more commonly turn-based than video games.
    • 2004 Peter Smith, Two of Us, The Story of a Father, a Son, and the Beatles, Houghton Mifflin Books, →ISBN, page 23
      With both hands, he fiddled and jabbed at the Color Gameboy I’d given him for his seventh birthday, which we allowed him to play, with some ambivalence, half an hour a day.
    Partly from its use but especially because of the name, this is clearly some sort of hand-held game. The fact that it’s an electronic device is not critical to the story (regardless of whether it can be inferred that it’s in color—and indeed, Color Gameboys are black and white).
    • 2004, 20TH Century Music & Hollywood Memorabilia, Heritage-Odyssey Auction #606, Ivy Press, →ISBN, page 54
      John Lennon Collection Promotional Poster.... Nice photo of John strumming his red Stratocaster.
    Only knowing that the person is a musician is enough to guess that one would strum a guitar outside of any evidence to indicate some other instrument.
    • 2004, Casey Moreton, The Greater Good, A Thriller, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 220
      The Saab couldn’t have been more than a year old, and the engine hummed like a sweet strum on a Stratocaster.
    Because of the simile, it is not entirely clear that this is even a musical instrument.
    • 2004, William Eric Jackson, Flight from Babylon, The Legend and Quest of Draxie Dread, Infinity Publishing, →ISBN, page 38
      ...his feet sockless in white Adidas, his arms and face tanned but not his ankles.
    Clearly these are some kind of shoes, in fact, ones that require and once had socks.
    • 2007, Anthony Ham and Alison Bing, Morocco, Lonely Planet, →ISBN, page 45
      nobody expects you to wear a headscarf or a Tuareg blue Turban in town – and these days, even Tuaregs wear Adidas.
    Without more detail, and for that matter even knowing that Adidas manufactures sports apparel, it is not clear that the authors meant shoes. To determine that takes a little more research.
Note that this applies only to definitions of a specific product. Genericized brand names, which have the meaning of any product of their type, are not controversial and are not under consideration.
  • Vote ends after: 5 October 2007
  • Vote starts on: 5 September 2007


  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support DAVilla 04:16, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support. I think my desire to see this at least partially resolved outweighs my ambivalence about the actual resolution proposed here. —RuakhTALK 05:16, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    It is stricter than before, specifically to appease ArielGlenn and Makaokalani, or anyone who may feel the same, and tip the balance. The previous vote was just too close to call. DAVilla 05:50, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Ruakh, that is faulty rationalization...you are endorsing an severe breach from what all other dictionaries do. This is the first of many, many similar proposals, with the eventual intent to create a "Pokemon dictionary." --Connel MacKenzie 15:08, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Including all words from all languages, inviting readers to make improvements, and releasing our content under the Gnu Free Documentation License are also severe breaches from what all other dictionaries do. Further, I don't consider it likely that we'll see further proposals to open the doors wide. While I don't think there are any non-genericized trademarks that it's particularly important to include, I don't see that it will be a problem to include those permitted by this proposal. —RuakhTALK 22:57, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    But they aren't generic at all. They'd be used in lower case, if they were. --Connel MacKenzie 23:03, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Well, obviously. So what? —RuakhTALK 23:24, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support (ALL words in ALL languages) SemperBlotto 07:34, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    For a term to be included in "all words in all languages" it needs to first be a word. --Connel MacKenzie 14:58, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Which is why the criteria detailed above are in place - to show that the brand name is a word. Any that aren't (and quite possibly some that are) will fail and be excluded. Thryduulf 22:42, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Strong support. To reiterate the point I made in the earlier proposal, the sort of usage required by the proposal is the sort that demonstrates that the term has entered the lexicon - that is, that people are likely to use the brand name to reference the product out of context. Cheers! bd2412 T 14:29, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Note: That is a blatant fallacy: if "ford" meant any car, it would be generic, but "Ford" is never generic. This vote isn't about allowing reasonable generic terms, instead, is for blatant commercial promotion...and eventually banner advertisements replete with corporate logos and popups (and popunders) taking readers from this site to various corporate web sites. --Connel MacKenzie 14:56, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    I said nothing about genercism, I said the word had entered the lexicon, which means that it is used as part of the language, nothing more, nothing less. Since this proposal constitutes a limitation on when such words can be included - a limitation that is beyond the control of the brand owners - it actually serves to prevent blatant commercial promotion, and the slippery slope projected to follow thereafter. Cheers! bd2412 T 16:36, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support Robert Ullmann 14:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    It took a while to read and absorb the above; I think you are saying (with a great deal of verbiage ;-) that the term must be (1) not commercial spam, and (2) cited in contexts where a reader might need to look it up in a dictionary. So Ford Prefect ought to qualify, right? ;-) Robert Ullmann 14:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Perhaps you should re-read it then, until you understand what it is. --Connel MacKenzie 14:58, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Yes, that's exactly right, minus "might". (Is Ford Perfect a brand name?) DAVilla 16:18, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Thank you. Ford Prefect is a UK brand; it was the name of a character in the Hitchhiker's Guide; the character having mistaken the dominant life-form on Earth. Readers in the US missed the joke, not knowing the Prefect (and thinking it was a misspelling of "perfect", as you wrote ;-). Wouldn't pass though, not having two other independent cites. Robert Ullmann 16:48, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    We haven't discussed this in this proposal (although we have on the talk page) but I think Ford Prefect would be self eliminating, because Ford is the maker of the Prefect and the Prefect is a type of Ford (therefore a type of car). Cheers! bd2412 T 16:58, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    I don't think so in this particular case; "Ford" is also a given name and surname; the character is introduced as "Ford", and then with the full name "Ford Prefect". If you don't know the "Prefect" brand a priori, there is nothing that will make you think of a car ;-) Robert Ullmann 17:08, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Prefect?? Wow, I misread that entire trilogy. All five books. Twice. DAVilla 17:12, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Seeing the BBC series on PBS here, the pronunciation was quite distinct - I remember running to grab a copy of one of the books, discovering too, that I had misread it the first time through. I did not know it was a car before today, though. With this exquisite knowledge, I now feel so complete... Ahem. How can you even contemplate putting that in a dictionary? --Connel MacKenzie 23:13, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    We're not contemplating putting it in the dictionary, it doesn't meet the proposed CFI. Cheers! bd2412 T 23:50, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Nitpick: Are we talking about the same word, contemplate? Why then, was it even asked? Because he was contemplating not putting it in? --Connel MacKenzie 07:32, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    Is it possible one of you was thinking Ford Prefect and the other Prefect? Should I be whispering? DAVilla 13:28, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support Thryduulf 22:42, 5 September 2007 (UTC) If anything the criteria here are not lenient enough, but if this is what it takes for the principle to pass, then I support. Thryduulf 22:42, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  7. Symbol support vote.svg Support Paul G 10:58, 6 September 2007 (UTC) I'm supporting this firstly because it is clearly well considered and there are safeguards against it being a free-for-all, and secondly because many print dictionaries do already include brand names, and not just ones that have become generic (like the oft-cited "hoover" and "aspirin").

    Here are some examples from the Oxford English Dictionary (second edition, 1989): Bradshaw; Ford; Rolls-Royce (also as "Rolls"; both forms have the figurative sense of something considered to be of the highest quality); and Womble. Terms not listed include Advil; Ferrari; Mercedes-Benz (but surely the lyrics of Janis Joplin's song would be an excellent illustrative quotation); and Porsche. What are the OED's criteria for inclusion? We can't be sure, but the entry for "Ford" has quotations from 1914 to 1968; in some, "Ford" is used as a noun ("...represented by the Ford") and in others, as a modifier ("a Ford van"). There are also figurative uses, meaning something that is the best of its kind. Figurative senses we certainly want to include, as these are transferred meanings and so definitely part of the English language. As for disused trade marks, well, the OED has "Bradshaw" (a type of railway guide), and mentions that have not been published since 1961. This is probably included because it is an informal form of the full title of the work ("Bradshaw's Railway Guide") and again because there are figurative uses. Womble refers either to the imaginary creature (see the Wikipedia article) or, in a transferred sense, a soft toy resembling it. So it looks as if, in these cases at least, that the OED accepts brand names if they are:

    • used in a figurative way as well as literally (such as Rolls-Royce)
    • used in a transferred sense as well as literally (such as Womble)
    • they are short forms of the full form (such as Bradshaw)

    The OED also has both "Scrabble" and "Monopoly". In both cases, only a literal definition is given, along with uses as a modifier (eg, "Scrabble board", "Monopoly money" [figurative sense]). So here at least is one example (Scrabble) that does not meet any of the criteria I have just listed and yet is still in the OED. So there is a case for including trademarks in the way proposed (what's good enough for the OED, with their rigorous standards, is good enough for Wiktionary, IMO).

    (Incidentally, see the Wikipedia article on genericised trademarks - I think we certainly need to include these if they are not already in. There are more on this page.) — Paul G 10:58, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

    I'm sorry, but what are you thinking? This proposal goes far beyond what the OED, commontrademarks or the WP page for "genericised trademarks" specify. As this is a policy proposal, not a discussion about an individual term, the "thin edge of the wedge" most certainly does apply. --Connel MacKenzie 07:29, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    Funny, to me it seems that "thin edge of the wedge" arguments apply better to discussions of individual words (where it's unclear what the consequences will be of allowing a specific word without establishing clear criteria that justify it) than to discussions of policies (where there is no wedge: a well-written policy explains exactly how far it extends and does not extend any further than that, so either the policy itself extends way too far, or it offers solid purchase on the slope). —RuakhTALK 17:55, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    Connel, can I ask for a clarification? Do you mean that if we enact this policy, that would open the door even to brand names that do not meet the proposed criteria? Or do you mean that if we enact this policy, that will open the door to the future enactment of even more permissive policies? bd2412 T 18:59, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    The explicit endorsement (like this) of some becomes an implicit endorsement of all over time (as you well know.) With gradual endorsement of all, new policy is gradually enacted (always) for more permissive Pokemon policy. In my opinion, that does explain why this is being pushed through in an underhanded manner; it doesn't solidify, nor reflect, current practice...instead it is trying to inflict new legalese exceptions to the rule. If those exceptions reflected what Wiktionary has been like for the past several years, it would be one thing. But instead of clarifying the obvious unwritten rule (no trademarks or brand names) that was implicit for the first few years, this aggressively dictates criteria for inclusion of non-dictionary material. That is very much against that spirit of building a usable dictionary. And on closer inspection, an enormous slap in the face to everyone that has contributed to this project, to date. --Connel MacKenzie 17:26, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    Connel, please could you explain how words that are included in almost every other major dictionary are not "dictionary words"? And also I'd like to understand how you feel omitting words that people want to look up is enhancing the usability of the dictionary? Thryduulf 18:00, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
  8. Symbol support vote.svg Support —Stephen 16:07, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
  9. Symbol support vote.svg Support Rod (A. Smith) 21:30, 8 September 2007 (UTC) We are not the first respectable dictionary to recognize that words invented by marketers are as important to readers as those invented elsewhere. This proposal limits attestation sources very well, such that attestable brands are truly those that have entered the lexicon. My reservations about the number of citations would be best addressed outside of this vote, so I hereby support this proposal. Rod (A. Smith) 21:30, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
  10. Symbol support vote.svg Support ... thought I'd voted already, but that must have been the previous version. -- Visviva 13:52, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
  11. Symbol support vote.svg Support H. (talk) 17:07, 14 September 2007 (UTC) I like words.


  1. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Connel MacKenzie 17:41, 31 August 2007 (UTC) There is no reason to include any brand name, product name or trademark in a dictionary. They are at best ephemeral. At the same time, they are always inherently promotional. Inclusion of one implies (for the sake of NPOV) inclusion of all. --Connel MacKenzie 17:41, 31 August 2007 (UTC) Reconfirming opposition. --Connel MacKenzie 06:04, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    This vote is premature and it must be struck. I would like to be lenient, but I need to substitute one of the examples above, and there may still be further changes discussed. I will ask you to reinstate it when the vote starts.
    Per your comment, Wikipedia seems to include some people, some bands, some books but not all. Is that a partisan POV?
    What reason would there be for including a product name? Because it's likely that someone would run across it and want to know what it means. Not only would they want to know, they would need to know in order to understand. That's already a very strict interpretation of CFI. We've done our best to make sure that in at least three such instances the term isn't promotional.
    All words are ephemeral. In the great scheme of things, time itself may be the physical manifestation of modus ponens, and the big crunch that of contradiction, at which point the Universe will not only cease to exist, it will cease to have ever existed. The corollary: Pray for consistency, pray for heat death. DAVilla 21:56, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
    I think we can leave his vote, as it's clear that he'd oppose any proposal to include brand names &c., so assuming you've no intention of completely changing the scope of this vote, his vote will apply. (Unless he changes his mind, I guess.)
    I don't think we should compare our CFI to Wikipedia's; their goals are very different, and so perforce they must interpret NPOV differently. Nonetheless, we have our own analogy: when we include place-names assigned by one international body, at the expense of any other POV, (as Connel himself has proposed doing for names of celestial objects), one could say we're violating NPOV. When we include the names of major religions that have entered the English language, and exclude names of obscure religions that don't have standard English names, one could say we're violating NPOV. The point is, as long as our CFI are objective, and have in mind our stated goal — a dictionary of language as it exists, not a representative dictionary of language as anyone might want it to be — then they are, in fact, neutral, even if in individual cases they might seem biased.
    RuakhTALK 00:22, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
    DAVilla, there is an important concept you are missing here. Dictionaries do not take sides; they must not promote products, companies, TV shows, actors/actresses, movies games or books. It is a fundamental flaw to think that pandering to successful advertising by allowing such entries here somehow cannot be misconstrued as support. There is absolutely no way you can successfully justify (over the long term) including Ford but not Yugo and still maintain some premise of neutrality. There is absolutely no way that Wiktionary can propose to be descriptive of language, while shamelessly promoting popular product names. Think, please, for a moment, about why we are here. We are building a free dictionary, describing words as they are used so that anyone for the rest of history can reuse what we create here, without fear of copyright repercussions. We are fighting the good fight, no? Protecting public domain knowledge from being scarfed up by nebulous corporations who wish to call knowledge their sole intellectual property, public-be-dammed. I do not understand the horrific, earth-shattering logic that can conclude that in the process of doing "the good fight," we should turn the gun to Wiktionary's head, insisting that it become an advertising tool. Anything that is a trademark is, by definition, a unique description for a corporate entity. In practice, that means that all trademarks are intentional manglings of real words. Not real words themselves. Yes, in my opinion, advertisers are the worst type of vandal we encounter here. Teams of trolls are paid to devise clever "reasonable-sounding" arguments for creating small exceptions, gradually expanding the scope of those exceptions over time. w:WP:DENY is the best we can do to fight such parasites, most of all, the most successful ones. The criteria you've laid out opens the door to enormous abuse. If you think it won't erode over time, you are being pointedly naive. If not, then I don't understand how your idealism regarding a "free (libre) dictionary" melds at all with such obscene corporate sponsorship. Symbol oppose vote.svg OPPOSE. --Connel MacKenzie 06:04, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Just to be clear, you couldn't possibly be suggesting that anyone on this page is an advertising troll, could you? I don't know who to suspect. Partner-in-crime-fighting SB perhaps? Nearly-a-checkuser Rod? Clone-him-and-we'd-be-done A-cai?
    I don't completely understand your arguments. On the one hand, you seem to be saying that the business world believes it somehow owns these words, and that even if we can prove otherwise through citation, we should be fearful. Why, when we already have a quibble over words like xerox? On the other hand, you seem to be insinuating them as the perpetrators. Consistency, please. Is it beneficial for companies or not?
    <start of inserted response>
    DAVilla, yes, the companies themselves are inconsistent. On one hand, their advertising teams are furiously trying to expand brand recognition. On the other hand, their legal team fights furiously to protect their trademark status. In Wiktionary terms, the advertisers push the lower case variant, the lawyers push the upper case variant. Now, obviously I think we should have much harsher criteria for generic term (coke, hoover, xerox,) than for regular terms. But under no circumstance, can I see justifying direct product mentions like Coke, Hoover or Xerox. That just does not belong in any dictionary.
    Am I ranting on about freedom vs. corporations in general? Perhaps...in as much as every contributor here does (even the vandals!) If you don't think there is a basis for contributing under the GFDL then you may as well be submitting suggestions directly to OED or m-w.com or UD or Collins. If it were not for Mickey Mouse, (which is, I believe, the paragon of corporate legal abuse of copyrights,) there would be no need for the GFDL - we'd all be free to learn as much as we needed on any given day, right? Every single person who contributes here is making a statement in opposition to that manner of corporate legal abuse! It should come as no surprise to you, that there is opposition to other kinds of "intellectual property" abuse. It should come as no surprise that advertisers routinely publish tips and tricks on how they are able to compromise wikis to their own financial advantage. To not recognize this as gigantic leap in their favor, yes, is naive.
    --Connel MacKenzie 23:57, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    <end of inserted response>
    Sure, call me naive, but I would hope that with time, rather than weaken, our criteria strengthen all-around. Our processes have come a way, but it seems they still need maturing. I would be ready to ask for a span of more than a year on all words if you weren't so insistent on protecting the re-entry of failures, even those deleted on-sight of suspicion only. DAVilla 07:20, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Bravo, DAVilla. You turned reasonable arguments somehow into an ad hominem attack? No, you turned it somehow into MULTIPLE personal attacks! I said nothing of the sort. How am I to believe that your rabid insistence on including trademarks and brand-names is genuine and sincere, now? How can I conclude anything but the fact that you are acting as a corpoorate representative, now? I (and many others) have said NUMEROUS times that generic use is not the same thing as the product mention - how painfully clear does that need to be? Our entry for Xerox is not the same as our entry for xerox. Our fictional "troll-entered" entry for Xerox would say A corporation that produces machines that duplicate pages of paper while our entry for the generic xerox is Any paper copy of a single page made by any copying machine. Sometimes, trolls and vandals like to add the definition of Xerox onto the xerox page, or otherwise mention the corporation - when they do so, they are knowingly being evil. What makes "xerox" a word synonymous with "photocopy" anyhow? It is a word that has entered the language through constant misuse. That doesn't make the corporation a "word," yet the precursor advertising and trademark do make it not be a word - only a play on words (that is, the "X" making a "zee" sound is plainly nonstandard and incorrect in English!) For something to be included in "all words in all languages" it needs to first be a word, which Xerox plainly is not. Symbol oppose vote.svg OPPOSE. Now stop with the personal attacks and stop behaving like a corporate tool. --Connel MacKenzie 14:24, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Connel, we "take sides" all the time when we decide that one bit of slang meets the CFI and another does not. We most certainly can include Ford and exclude Yugo, if the necessary citations of the limited type set forth above exist for Ford and not for Yugo. bd2412 T 14:27, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    BD2412, I understand you are an avid proponent of this (and similar) measures. The proposal, in and of itself, remains evil. --Connel MacKenzie 14:59, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Now that's a contradiction in terms - by definition, anything I support is not evil! :) bd2412 T 16:59, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    <obligatory joke> Wait, didn't you say you are a lawyer? </oblig> Yes, I know; a lawyer can do a lot of good; usually you do, from what I've seen. But the stereotype exists for a reason. --Connel MacKenzie 23:18, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    Can't say I didn't have that one coming. bd2412 T 23:52, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    I wouldn't consider an accusation of any of the people mentioned an ad hominem attack because I know you praise their work (and even explained how). I was just pointing out that, while there may be a possibility of the threat you mention, it is not a real threat now. The people who support this are not corporate puppets, as I'm sure you've come to know us all. And you comments on xerox indicate we're not going to thwart this selfish corporate pressure any more by completely disallowing it. So far people have been supportive of brand names selectively. At least if there are criteria then there is a legitimate reason to block their entry. DAVilla 21:57, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
    Edited. DAVilla 16:02, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
    Thwart what any more completely? I'm saying we should have an entry for xerox without any corporate reference in the definition, but we should not have an entry for Xerox. --Connel MacKenzie 16:55, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
  2. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Williamsayers79 15:21, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    We do not need to include anything other than genericized trademarks the like or aspirin and hoover. Anything else should be on Wikipedia if it must go anywhere. For genericized trademarks I'd like to see something upwards of ten quotes for proof of genericisation.--Williamsayers79 15:25, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
    As I understand it, companies would not want to see their product names used generically since they would be at risk of losing the trademark. While there may be incentive to promote the brand name, as Connel has accused this vote of doing, once that's in there isn't really any incentive to promote an additional definition of generic use. In other words, corporations would be thrilled if we were stricter on genericized terms than on brand names. Just to be clear, while your proposal is consistent in and of itself, in my view it would be unwise to push it if this vote passes without also extending that requirement to brand names.
    In the U.S., by my limited Wikipedic knowledge, as long as the corporation appears to be combatting genericization then they're fine, regardless of how much success their efforts have. Our note on xerox, which claims that Xerox "is engaged in an ongoing campaign to convince the public that this term should not be used as a verb", is exactly what a judge would want to see, so we're really playing into their game by allowing it. I'm not brave enough to remove it, however, since I'm not a lawyer and I wouldn't know what the ramifications are. Even if it's legal to strip the entry down, doing so might spark a war that I wouldn't want to go into without full community support. Frankly, I personally don't give a damn what the linguistics department at Xerox Corp. thinks, so I'll go with whatever we decide on that. DAVilla 22:25, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
  3. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Dmcdevit·t 18:02, 6 September 2007 (UTC) This is ridiculous. The previous "discussion" cited for this vote is the last failed vote itself. Shall we simply have vote after vote until one passes? I raised my objections last time and there's already a vote going now before I, or most of us, have had a chance to comment. These proposals are intended to represent a consensus version, not the invention of a single author. This vote never should have started and I'm disappointed to see so many people voting without noting that. Dmcdevit·t 18:02, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
    First of all, the two votes are not the invention of a single author, since bd2412 wrote the previous vote and I wrote this one. There was, secondly, more discussion on this topic if you'll read this vote's talk page, and plenty of time to comment on it as it sat on WT:V for three two weeks. Third, it actually is a compromise version, having a stricter criteria per ArielGlenn's objection and more closely aligned to Makaokalani's comments on the previous vote. In fact, if it weren't for the desire to achieve a greater concensus, the last vote could simply have been passed as it was, 13-6-1, which is more than 12.7 for an absolute two-thirds supermajority. I know Connel isn't pleased about having brand names pass at all, and you would object to anything that doesn't indicate some quality or attribute (which I did consider, by the way), but it is surprising that you wouldn't acknowledge any concessions took place at all. On the other hand, the colorful logic that comments your votes is starting to look less peculiar to me. DAVilla 21:57, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
    My "colorful" logic. Why don't you cut the euphemism and just say what you mean, instead of insinuating? Why do I even bother? It seems that I can't disagree with you without you accusing me of acting in bad faith, or without you insulting my intelligence. "Assume good faith" indeed. Dmcdevit·t 00:14, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    Well that was an odd choice of words, wasn't it? However, it would have been exactly wrong to say strange or abnormal logic since that would directly imply the logic itself is incorrect. I wasn't trying to insinuate that your reasoning isn't logical. Maybe colorful arguments or conclusions would have been better, except that could take on a different meaning. I meant that if you were playing chess, you would make the sort of moves that few would have considered. It's good to think outside the box, even necessary at times, but it won't necessarily win the game. (Unless a player can see far ahead, they may just turn out to be poor moves in the long run.)
    In my opinion your conclusion that "this vote never should have started" is incorrect, but that's because your premises are, in my view, incorrect. Regardless, they're very close. To make a better analogy, if you assume that every event has a cause, then you'd wind up concluding that there is a God (in the metaphysical sense) because something has to have sparked the Big Bang. On the other hand, you've practically assumed what you concluded.
    Yes, we will go vote after vote until one passes, but making concessions along the way. If this vote fails, then it could be further restrained to brand names with some quality or attribute. I won't write that one though. On the first hand, I don't know how to judge a citation on attributive use (aside from the grammatical definition). Furthermore, I've realized that the sets of citations for contextual ambiguity and for descriptive attribution are mutually exclusive, so it doesn't fit into the framework I've set up here. That's why I couldn't incorporate your comments, although if you look at the history of the page you will see that I had initially intended to. Of course, you're always welcome to work something out and win approval. My primary motivation is just to have something objective, given a rough estimate of where the community stands on this. DAVilla 01:23, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    You couldn't incorporate my comments? Well, now you've gone and started a vote without any publicized discussion, and I had no chance to offer input. The talk page of a new vote page where none of the interested people are watching is not sufficient. Putting them here first (without linking them from anywhere else) is even more annoying, because it means my watchlist doesn't even tell me when it starts, since there are no edits to WT:VOTE. Perhaps instead of trying to surmise what I think from past discussions and then deciding it can't be done, if we'd have talked we could have come up with something. Apparently it is totally abnormal logic to want to have been included in the discussion, before you pump out these votes like we're a regular parliament? Dmcdevit·t 02:43, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Wow, you had some dumb luck. It looks like you visited this page a bunch between the 24th and 27th of August, right in the timeframe that this vote had been postponed (to address a request for examples). It was still listed on the page, but only as a link, which you probably wouldn't have seen. There were two edits to WT:V that were commented, with "Brand names of products 2" and "relisting Brand names of products 2", which wasn't stellar outreach but neither negligent. I did mention as well in closing the last one that I would bring it to vote again, but not raising it again on BP was not as open as we should aspire to. Each times something like this happens it just underscores another bump in the process.
    Look, formalities aside, I'm still open to input. I have pulled down a number of flawed votes, so I don't have an inflated sense of any ability to get things perfectly right. But at this time I don't see the wording of this vote as being flawed, and you've been debating process more than anything. You've made you case there, now make your case here. If you can tell me how contextual ambiguity and descriptive attribution aren't contradictory, then I will consider modifying and restarting the vote.
    Otherwise I couldn't see ruling this as unjust. Whether your opinion is incorporated or not, people are still debating and voting on a specific text. I'm not asserting a right to ignore you. I'm asking you to trust that I haven't intended to leave you out and that I will still consider your opinion for any changes. In fact I would be entirely compelled to make any alterations that were widely supported. You're right that this should represent a consensus, and even the minority opinions should be taken into account. So let's hear your ideas, and if they're compatible or if others are warm to them then we'll begin again. If they're not, what then? I'll extend the deadline so others can see the dissenting view, and your objection will be noted.
    By the way, this much I did incorporate:
    Surely you know that no one refers to cars as an "Accord car," or a "Camry car" or whatever, because that sounds wrong in the English language. Therefore your proposal automatically included every make of car ever, because it is trivial to find a usage of the least notable car if all you need is "She drove X." Indeed, it would be difficult to find one that explicitly called it a car. People eat Doritos, and Frosted Flakes, Kudos, and even Black Cherry Blue OX Real Power, but it would be unnatural to write or say that I am eating (or dinking) my "Doritos chips", "Frosted Flakes cereal", "Kudos granola bar", or "Black Cherry Blue OX Real Power energy drink." I suppose these and all their fellow products regardless of significance are to be included wholesale, then.
    Maybe in the last vote the exclusion of type was enough, but not in this one. DAVilla 04:49, 7 September 2007 (UTC)


  1. Symbol abstain vote.svg Abstain Widsith 15:49, 5 September 2007 (UTC) I don't feel strongly enough to oppose, but I think in general the only band names we really need are those which are used in a general way for other brands too, eg hoover which is used for all types of vacuum cleaner.
  2. Symbol abstain vote.svg Abstain EncycloPetey 15:13, 22 September 2007 (UTC) The proposal seems sound enough (mostly), but the implementation of it seems overly complex. That may turn out to be necessary for this oft-debated issue, but I can't vote to support a criterion that is to be used often yet is so difficult to apply because of its wordiness. --EncycloPetey 15:13, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
    I had envisioned the examples colorized above as being on a separate CFI page. They illustrate the black text, and primarily only the last point, which at its essence is simply when a reader would need to look up a term due to insufficient context. DAVilla 01:03, 25 September 2007 (UTC)


  1. I think it is understood that this can be handled as an extension of our existing RFV process. To avoid confusion, I would like to suggest a point about procedure. While verification may be requested for the specific brand name definition, RFV of the term in general would not necessarily apply to that definition. For instance, the RFV process could turn up quotations of other definitions, thereby validating the page without addressing the brand name specifically. Therefore it might be reasonable to create a separate page for such terms, or at least require that the distinction of a brand name be noted, so as not to confuse those unaware of the separate criteria. DAVilla 04:48, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  2. I need to think for awhile longer about this one. Many brand names have become so widely known that they form as much a part of the English language as any other common noun. At some level of use, this project should document such words. However, I've grown a bit uneasy about the number of required attestations. It seems a little too easy to find three citations for fairly obscure words (e.g., *Wintard). Perhaps the minimum number of citations should be be raised. Rod (A. Smith) 06:16, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    The type of citations required is a significant consideration. I'm sure it's easy to find dozens of Citations for Cabriolet, but I haven't been able to find three that use the word outside of any context, and are from independent authors with no connection to the car industry either in their employment or in their writing. Imagine having to find three citations for Wintard without using any sources that discuss computers or software! bd2412 T 15:29, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    Yes, you're right, of course. My concern, I suppose, is not so much with this proposal in particular, but more for our CFI in general. Setting a bar at three, regardless of how stringent the rules, invites many situations where entries that should be excluded are included and vice-versa. I'm thinking in terms of statistics, sample sizes, and the number three. This particular proposal just brings that issue into the forefront because (putting on the Hat of Paranoia) I can imagine some company trying to promote their product, reading our CFI, and nudging just a couple of their employee authors to use the brand name in some lame seemingly non-company-related publications. Rod (A. Smith) 16:42, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    Why go to the bother of forcing three such uses over three years when there are far easier ways to advertise? I wouldn't have thought they'd want to have their brand in the dictionary, given that it would be a step in the direction of genericisation - which others here have convincingly argued is not something companies want. Anyway, I am not aware that there is any clear link between having a brand as an entry on Wikipedia/Wiktionary and sales benefit. Thryduulf 16:59, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    Marketing is a strong force, Thryduulf. A case in point is this excerpt from an e-mail message sent to me by an executive officer of a company for which I work,
    “[...] a sincere interest in improving our methods and means of communication, especially promoting communication using more contemporary methods. [...] Using a very factually-oriented approach, consistent with Wikipedia standards, [a director] published the following earlier today: [link to a Wikipedia entry] [....]”
    In the ensuing discussion, I explained that they should not be surprised if the entry is eventually deleted due to lack of 'pedia's notion of notability. I then noticed that many other questionably notable companies in the same market had also created promotional entries, so I did not flag the entry for deletion. Luckily, we have an objective CFI that, combined with the excellent proposal above, would easily eliminate most such simple self-promotions. Once a company has an entry in a WikiMedia project, however, some marketing personnel will likely watch the entry with an inappropriate sense of ownership. We would of course remove the promotional aspect of a definition like “one of the world's favorite....”, but is there an easy way to prevent edit wars from resulting? Rod (A. Smith) 18:08, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    The problem with something like that is applying the rule. Maybe we shouldn't include words with less than, say, 100 durably archived citations; but then we'll simply have to either (1) exclude every word that anyone ever requests verification for (since no one in their right mind is going to spend the time needed to track down, type up, and format 100 quotations), or (2) start making major use of the "clearly widespread use" loophole. I might be O.K. with some sort of in-between criterion, that required three citations, plus reason to think there were at least twenty-five total citations we could add if we didn't have lives; but it wouldn't be my favorite policy ever. —RuakhTALK 19:07, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    Perhaps we should require cites 1-3 (or possibly 1-4 or at the outside 5) to be in the present format, and to give the link to b.g.c and/or ISBN and page number for the rest. I agree its not the best policy, but something along those lines might be workable. Thryduulf 20:42, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
    I didn't think it would be fair to require more than three citations, but if we were to add to the number, we might consider further restricting the criteria, per Dmcdevit's objection as I understand it, with additional citations showing some consistent quality or attribute that the brand has which the product type more generally does not. However, the line between what would count and what wouldn't is fuzzy to me (are all cars fast? are all sports cars fast?), and besides the potential for attestable, contradicting qualities, I'm not entirely comfortable with promoting a possibly minority meaning. DAVilla 15:03, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
    I'd be willing to support requiring additional cites, if citations beyond the first three could have less stringent requirements. For example, if a fourth or fifth cite regarding an automobile brand was allowed to originate on a general (non-promotional) website about automobiles if the use was still out of direct context; or a fourth or fifth cite could reference someone "driving the X down the road to fill it up with gas" and still be counted as a citation, so long as three non-contextual citations had already been found. Cheers! bd2412 T 16:47, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
    That would be so easy to do, I wonder if there would be any point to doing it. I could see making the criteria even tighter, but I doubt if your idea would accomplish that ultimately. DAVilla 16:08, 13 September 2007 (UTC)


  • Passed 11-3-2 on 5 October 2007. DAVilla 02:09, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Percentage: 78,5% in support, determined as 11 / ( 11 + 3 ). --Dan Polansky 15:59, 26 October 2010 (UTC)